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by Amy Clipston

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-310-71981-6
Publisher: Zondervan

In this Christian chick-lit effort, car repair paves the way to emotional healing. High-school junior Emily and her father have just moved in with her wealthy aunt and uncle and their two children. Several months previously, Emily’s mother died of cancer, and hospital bills have pushed them to the brink: Emily’s father has lost his car-repair business and their home. Emily, given to dramatic sighs, unexpected tears and prickly angst, has not been able to talk to God since her mother died, her emotional distress amplified by being recently dumped by her boyfriend. While she enthusiastically rejects nearly every kind overture offered to her, next-door-hunk Zander easily breaks through her barriers, since the two of them share an intense interest in auto repair. This activity provides Emily with solace but horrifies her critical, fashion-focused aunt. While cheerleader cousin Whitney is initially portrayed as shallow, she tries hard to relieve Emily’s suffering, as do the minister and youth-group leader at their church. Emily’s egocentric, first-person narration sharply limits the focus, leaving other characters little room to develop. A lack of suspense, a predictable outcome, a nondescript setting and a surfeit of soul-searching on Emily’s part, as she writes long letters to her mother in her journal, all contribute to a largely vanilla-flavored tale of loss and, not surprisingly, redemption. (Christian chick-lit. 10 & up)